Anyone who has lived through middle school gym class knows the anxiety of being picked last for the kickball team. But not everyone knows the anxiety of being invited to a party.
The anxiety of being excluded. The anxiety of seeing people you know in public. This agony is something I used to endure every day. From 7th to 9th grade this condition ate away at me like a disease. It would crawl up my body every time someone invited me to hangout, or any time I had to talk to someone I wasn’t comfortable with. I was suffering from social anxiety.
Social anxiety is a different kind of depression. It’s sitting in my room at night wondering what was wrong with me. It’s harassing myself over any stupid, candid social interaction or conversation. It’s knowing I’m not wanted and still trying to feel some sort of belongingness. It’s a ball of self-pity in my stomach, with spikes that rip at my heart, slowly churning away until there was nothing left to feel. The weekends were my nightmares. With every text message asking me to come out, or every party that was thrown. What most kids looked forward to, I tortured myself over.
I yearned to be invited, but the thought of attending stressed me out. And even if I wasn’t going, it was the validation of someone asking me that set me at ease. It was knowing that my “condition” hadn’t cost me friends that kept me satisfied.
I obsessed over what others thought of me. Well, I was obsessed over what the “popular” kids thought of me. I refused to let their views of me change.
So I was careful: never laughed too loud, “they’re going to think I’m obnoxious”. Never asked any questions, “they’re going to think I’m stupid”. I didn’t dare be myself, ” they’re going to think I’m weird”.
I didn’t want to completely ruin my chances. It was a constant internal battle. What if I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say and people thought I was weird? What if I made a fool of myself?. With my stomach turning into knots, I would pace in my room, not knowing what to do with myself. Supercalophobia:(n.) the fear of not being invited. It came to the point where I started to be left out due to my lack of social ability. There goes my validation, there goes the only thing that helps me sleep at night.
My condition had cost me friends. Social rejection was my new demon. I stopped getting texts. I stopped getting invites. But who would want the shy kid there anyway; why invite him if he’s not going to come anyway. When I was invited, I knew it was only out of pity.
The pain of social rejection began to influence my emotional and psychological state. I would come home every Friday and cry to my mom. What is wrong with me? I just want to be like the other kids.
Not only did my social anxiety drive others to hate me, it drove me to hate myself. The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what others think of them. It took me a long time to break out of this prison. My brain was a cell, my thoughts: handcuffs: holding me back and tightening every time I tried to break free. My anxiety deprived me of my happiness.